ERIC Number: ED350149
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1991-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Scientific Reasoning in Elementary School: Developmental and Individual Differences.
Pre-adolescent children are generally characterized as incapable of applying scientific reasoning to test a causal relation. This paper describes research on children's scientific reasoning which shows that pre-adolescent children do have some systematic scientific reasoning skills. The subjects of this study were 260 second through fourth grade students and 34 adults in Munich, Germany. In the first part of the study, "Hypothesis Testing," students were asked it they can generate and recognize adequate experimental test strategies, and whether they can adopt hypothetical stance to predict outcomes on the basis of a hypothesized causal relation. In the second part, "Interpreting Evidence," children were shown information indicating whether a particular dimension was related to an outcome, and were asked to judge the causal relation and to justify their judgement. From the results, it is concluded that children do understand some of the requirements of an experimental test, at least by third grade. Specifically, they know that one must vary the dimension of interest. By fourth grade, children also understand that one must control other variable dimensions. The conclusion drawn from the second part of the experiment is that by third grade children can propose a contrastive empirical test and can accurately use information as evidence about a causal relation. By fourth grade they can adopt a "hypothetical" perspective to discuss how an outcome will vary if a potential cause is or is not relevant. (PR)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Max-Planck-Inst. for Psychological Research, Munich (West Germany).